Even before I set the table or tuck the turkey into the oven my thoughts are already on the days to follow. To me, the feast starts after the Thanksgiving dinner. The labor of cooking for a crowd and getting everything to the table on time is over and folks are nicely sated. Later, after the plates have been scraped, rinsed and stacked, a good cook looks at the picked-over carcass and sees the makings of salads and soups, of sandwiches and casseroles.
Once the guests have moved on to watch football, play board games or nap, I pick the meat off the turkey, wrapping up some for guests in return for their leftovers. Next, those bones go into a stockpot with water to cover, an onion, a carrot, and whatever fresh herbs are left to simmer through the evening. Once cooled, it’s strained, some is frozen, the rest stored in the fridge, for soups and stews. But it’s that leftover meat that keeps us all going through the week.
With a house full of visiting family, sandwiches are the key to satisfying the various schedules and dietary preferences. Providing plenty of condiments and spreads for variety is the trick and many can be created from the holiday’s leftovers, as well. So, I look to the cooked vegetables that are ready to whiz in a food processor. Leftover rolls and sliced bread can be brought back to life in the oven or toasted to use as the base for open-faced sandwiches topped with cheeses shredded from the appetizer tray.
Don’t limit these condiments, salsas and spreads to sandwiches. Set them out with crackers or veggies for dipping or for topping bruschetta. Fold them into omelets or toss with pasta. These recipes are mere guidelines, so feel free to swap out ingredients depending on what you have on hand, substituting roast squash for sweet potatoes or adding more apples to the salsa … you get the idea. With an eye to thrift and creativity, Thanksgiving is the ultimate feast.